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Thursday, October 12, 2023

Louisville: Burnin' Down The House

All wet.
Hey you might need a raincoat...

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

I thought The Granddaughter, Sloane, was going to be my lucky ND football viewing talisman this season but in the end, not so much.  As it turns out, she, like our offensive line, suffers from a lack of consistent focus.

The first week, Ohio State, was predictable - she was clearly captivated by the houseguests, in particular the dreamy Dr. Spittler, her storybook reading buddy.  And, frankly, who among us hasn't been disarmed by Dr. Bob's boyish charms?  I get it, Sloane. 

The Duke and Louisville contests, however, revealed something a little more... chronic.   About both the toddler and the ND football team.   

Nice doing business with you, Grandie
Hers was at least understandable - she had better priorities (or perhaps was better incentivized), like mastering peepee on the potty and getting that Scooby Doo cookie from grandma for each successful occasion.  

Let me say this about that:  If the Corrigan homestead were a casino and Sloane a patron, she'd have been asked to cash out and leave for the way she has clearly gamed the system.   No 2 1/2 year old should be able to have that level of bladder control where they can pee, snag that cookie, go back and pee 30 minutes later, hitting grandma up for another cookie. Repeatedly.

And when she showed she could successfully 'drop a deuce' and hit that reward lottery?   Well, that's "Get Anderson Cooper on the line"-level special, with an appropriate corresponding remuneration. 

What, are we over-sharing?  You ask, what's the point of all this?  You mean other than connecting a poorly coached football team to the training of a toddler with mad potty skills?  

Kindness personified.  RIP, Julie.
Actually, there is no point.  Other than to recognize: 

a) It was really nice to see someone enjoy big success (both coach and student) 


b) Life goes on, off of the football field.

The Middle East.  

Julie Rittenhouse.  

After all, it is only a game.

Quote of the Week

"I have never been lost but I will admit to being confused for several weeks..."                                                                                                       Daniel Boone

Well, there you have it - the archetypal frontier hero of American folklore was similarly lost in Kentucky (albeit not in front of 59,000 people) and that turned out okay for him.  

It's always darkest before dawn, right? 

Question, Dan'l, when you say 'confused for several weeks', could you be more specific as to how long we can mistake being lost for merely being confused?  And not to make too fine a point of it, even if you were only confused, practically speaking... you were still wandering aimlessly in the wilderness, right?

Asking for a friend.

The vultures fly around me, come and take me home
Can't tell the bad from the good
I'm out in the woods, then I'm lost in the woods


Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  Young Jerrence knew he was spiraling - the empty vodka and limoncello pudding shots and half empty box of Girl Scout cookies told the sad tale.

He began to wonder whether there was a methadone-like equivalent for his Peanut Butter Patty dependency.  

That line of inquiry, however, would have to wait. He was more interested in trying to understand what drove him to take such dramatic, and it must be said, pathetic action.  Over the course of three weeks, he'd just watched his beloved Irish devolve from a seeming BCS playoff caliber team into a middle-of-the-pack ACC outfit.

Most worrisome was the implications, not about the players, but of the coaches. The O-line coaching looked non-existent while the WR's, even recognizing their youth, appeared to be regressing.

Jerrence saw all of these roads leading back to an inevitable referendum on the head coach - an impressively earnest, likable coach now appearing to be deeply out of his depth.  

Jerrence considered whether the coach had struck a Faustian deal, not with The Devil but with the former Notre Dame / Moeller H.S. coach.  

He wondered if Ron Powlus had researched that contract too. 

Game 7 Thoughts - GUEST OP ED!

What about Bob?  You may have seen or heard about the movie.  Bob Wiley (played by Bill Murray) suffers from multiple phobias which makes leaving his NYC apartment difficult.  Despite regular therapy, he makes little progress and he constantly seeks reassurance from his therapists—plural.  Why is this movie germane to this blog?  

Perhaps the title of this Op Ed should also be, “What about Bob?”

After the ending of the Ohio State game, I was in desperate need of therapy.  Not just gallons of Peter’s Bloody Mary’s or Springbank Scotch, but real therapy.   I am not sure I have recovered from that game.  Last night’s game against Louisville made me realize that I have the same need as Bob Wiley.  

I, Bob Rasmus, need therapists.  Plural.  

Therefore, I reached out about an Op Ed for this week’s blog.  If you are reading these words, you know that I made it past the censors.  What it also means, is that you, the readers, are my therapists.  Ask yourself this question:  for whom is it scarier -- you? Or me?

As part of my 12 Step Therapy process (five/six steps remaining this year) I thought it necessary to elucidate the things I absolutely know to be true (maybe think or believe) about Notre Dame football this season:

*  Like for me, I believe the loss to Ohio State was crushing to the football team.  By team, I mean the collective-players and coaches.  This game was going to be the springboard to team greatness.  It was the focal point of the pre-season and the first three games.  We were going to beat OSU.  Using that momentum and belief in themselves, we would  then go on and steamroll, rip the heart out, curb stomp USC.   It wasn’t just the fact we lost, it was the way we lost:   
     - Losing with one second left, having only ten men on the field -for two plays (one of which was after a time out) and still almost succeeding
     - DJ Brown dropping the sure interception
     - Hartman failing to give up his body for the two 4th and short attempts (A harbinger of our 3rd and short problems against Louisville?), etc. etc.  

If we as fans (and supposed adults) were devastated, imagine how the players and coaches must have felt.  They had invested so much time, effort and psyche into winning.  They had the win in their grasp, until they didn’t.

As human beings and young men, for all the reasons mentioned above, it must have been devastating and depressing.  The coaches appropriately shouldered the blame for the 10-men debacle.  However, the coaches wouldn’t be human if they were not second guessing themselves over the failures.  Deep down in the inner recesses of the players’ minds, they have to be asking, “How could this happen?  Two plays in a row and NO ONE noticed?”

*  Believing in yourself is an essential component of success.  Prior to the OSU game it certainly appeared as if the team had absolute belief in themselves and their coaches. Afterwards (not just immediately, but over the last several weeks) you could see some doubt creeping  in.  Interviews were not quite as ebullient.  Combine the psychological devastation with what has turned out be a brutal stretch of games.  Four games in a row against undefeated and ranked teams, two on the road, all at night.  The middle two road games against teams whose season, perhaps decade would be made by defeating Notre Dame.  For three of the four teams, this would their emotional peak of the season-similar to OSU versus Notre Dame.  

Ohio State’s peak may have been Notre Dame, or it may be Michigan.  If the latter, they still have eight more weeks to rest and recharge their psyches.  The football team must feel like Sisyphus.  They got the rock one second away from the top of the OSU mountain, only to have it tumble back.  Now they had to perform the same task, muster the same strength and inner reserve three more weeks in a row.  They succeeded against Duke and only got the stone halfway plus one minute against Duke.  

Prior to OSU, I felt good about USC.  Now, I am worried.  I wonder how the players are feeling.  The schedule, tasks and hand they have dealt themselves would be difficult for anyone, in any situation.  It is even more difficult for 18-23 (24) year olds.  An overseas game followed by seven more games is a tough row to hoe.  I do know this: our Bye week cannot come fast enough. 

*  I believe the mental fatigue (and ACC bias) was a factor in the number of penalties against Duke.

*  I do know that one definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.  Based on this definition, and last night’s short yardage playing calling, I believe Gerard Parker is criminally insane.  

At the very least, his short yardage play calling was criminally deficient.  If this had occurred in Russia, we would be hearing news report today of how Parker had fallen to his death from a hospital room window.

*  I know that Parker’s lucky numbers are not 3 and 1 as in 3rd and one.  He must think his lucky numbers are 4 and 3, 4 or 5.  Why else would  you repeatedly call the same play that had failed every previous time...  unless you believed analytics said 4th down and three, four or five yards to go indicated a higher probability of successfully getting a 1st down?  

Or, you had a phobia about the numbers three and one, or felt four, three, four or five were your lucky numbers?  Another explanation can be found by re-reading my preceding point.  Why didn’t we use our faster running backs with a call to the outside?

...but Vegas was happy.
*  While on the subject of failed rushing play, I believe that something has happened to Estime, our OL, our play calling or all of the above.  Estime seems more tentative and slow getting to the handoff and hole. Estime appears to move in geological time when approaching the line of scrimmage. I don’t know whether this is a result of play design, he has some nagging injury or something else.  His game winning TD against Duke put a Potemkin veneer on the problem.  It definitely manifested itself this weekend.  You might be thinking, “But wait, the offensive line was being pushed back by the Louisville DL.  Estime had no chance.”   

My response is two fold:  it makes Estime’s sluggish rushing attempts even more problematic:  see my two previous points.

*  I believe it is beneficial and evidence of an exemplary work ethic to catch 20,000 (over / under on the accuracy of the 20,000 number) from a JUGS machine when attempting to transition from RB to WR.

With a JUGS machine you know where the ball will be and when.  It does not help you adjust your route on a ball which is not perfectly thrown.  Chris Tyree has to catch that ball.  If he did, I believe the outcome would have been entirely different.

*  I believe a circle has the ability to take a better tackling angle than Notre Dame’s safeties.  Add some atrocious tackling to the mix (with the exception of Xavier Watts) and the result is combustible.

Speaking of safeties, I am beginning to wonder if one of them has not fallen under the
influence of Rocco and Anthony Sperla.  The horrendous tackling, the consistently absurd angles (See the second half touchdown run) and two critical dropped interceptions...

Giving up FG's shouldn't be considered a problem...
*  I think Al Golden (with the exception of the last four plays against OSU) has done and outstanding job with this year’s defense.  With the exception of CB's, we have no real defensive studs.  

Golden has molded a very effective unit despite the aforementioned safeties.  If the NCAA gave an award for Comeback Coach of the Year, Golden would have my vote.

St least we've got this play down. 
*  Everyone talks about in game adjustments.  We seem to be making them on defense.  With the exception of the Navy game, we do not seem to be making any on offense.  Where are the misdirections?  Where are the sweeps to love, Price, Payne or Ford?  Why do why constantly use a tight formation (which encourages our opponents to load the box) when we cannot run?  At least spread out the receivers to avoid even more defenders massing near the line.

Gruley, ready to do his part.
*  And now, my biggest fear.  While last night’s loss wasn’t good, it's not what bothers me the most.  My biggest worry is that I am beginning to wonder if Freeman is in over his head.  He seems to be an absolutely outstanding human being.  A Notre Dame representative straight our of central casting -- at least value and character wise.  However, as one of the message board posters said, “Is he too nice of a guy? “  

Every successful leader has  to have the ability to be prick at times.  People need to be held accountable.  Can he crack down?  Can he be the disciplinarian?  We all know how difficult it is to step up to your first real leadership role.  It is difficult, it is scary it requires on-the-job learning.  Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells and Mike Krzyzewski all took a number of years, or a second stop before they were successful head coaches.  This all occurred before the internet, an era of instant evaluation and online therapy sessions. 

We're both headed for trouble
And it's so easy to find
You walkin' so close to the line... 


Buddy's Buddy

Originally, it had been a bit of a joke - turn the blog into a lacrosse blog.

Suddenly that was not only feeling less funny but also more actionable.

And the only bright spot on the offense came from - checks notes - a walk on athlete attending Notre Dame on a lacrosse scholarship.  

Jerrence felt, once again, the cosmos was sending him yet another message.

Jordan Faison
, now on a football scholarship, thanks for at least one bright spot from Saturday night.

And one must ask the question, why didn't you play more? 

RE-PETE (A shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mail-bag)

File this Pete Sampson insight under, "Tell me something I don't already know."

We're well past the point of nuance in critiquing this football program - which is good news for dullards such as myself since subtlety is completely lost on me.  

But pretty awful for the fanbase when the bare facts are so depressing.

In times such as these, we look to someone closer to the program such as Mr. Sampson for, hopefully, some sign that there is a light at the end of this tunnel.  And that the light is not, in fact, an oncoming train.

Unfortunately as the magic eight ball would say, "Ask again later."

This needs to be the nadir of the Marcus Freeman era at Notre Dame.

Because if Freeman truly has staying power as a head coach, performances like Saturday’s at Louisville simply cannot happen. Notre Dame can’t take the field without a coherent offensive game plan. The staff can’t hide behind analytics at the cost of ignoring the action happening right in front of it. A good coaching staff must affect what’s happening on the field. Too often it felt like Notre Dame was a bystander to its own game against Louisville.

Simply losing a football game doesn’t call into question the entire operation from the top down. But losing like that with this quarterback? The key to Freeman’s success at Notre Dame was his ability to learn on the job. And the lessons from the meltdown at Louisville must be massive.

The problem is that it’s hard to apply those lessons with USC coming to town for the Irish’s eighth game in eight weeks and fourth consecutive night game, all on top of midterm exams this week.

Source:  The Athletic
October 9, 2023

Cocktail of the Week

Admit it - by the middle of the 4th quarter, should you have been in the uncomfortable position of actually watching the game...  you were probably wishing to be somewhere other than where you were.

And not just somewhere else, geographically, but some time period other than now.

So how about a book (and beverage) that celebrates taking us back to those more halcyon times... (Personally, I'm choosing 1978-79 at Senior Bar.)

Remembrance of Things Pabst
Remembrance of Things Past (1913-27)
By Marcel Proust

If at first you don't succeed, try submitting your 1.5 million word manuscript again.  Such was the fate of Proust's monumental 7-volume novel (which might as well have been called Remembrance of Literally Everything Past), initially rejected by publishers who are now kicking themselves in the grave. 

A thoughtful exploration on the tricky nature of time-telling, one passage has gained particular fame:  Proust's narrator describes his sudden transportation back to childhood after tasting a madeleine soaked in tea.

Take a journey to simpler times with a delicate summer drink that'll have you recalling your first secret sips of beer.  And pair this with as many cookies as your memory demands.

6 oz.  iced tea (Earl Grey is best)
1 (12 oz.) can beer  
1 lemon wedge, for garnish

Pour the iced tea into a pint glass and fill to the top with the beer, squeezing and dropping the lemon wedge into the glass.

Now, kick back on a hammock, toss back a few madeleines,  and pull out those journals - or start a new one.  (Beginner bloggers, just remember:  the internet is forever.)

Source:  Tequila Mockingbird
Cocktails  With a Literary Twist
by Tim Federle

 Schedule 2023

26            Navy (Dublin, Ireland)                W

2                  Tennessee State                         W                                   THE CALM BEFORE...
9                  @NC State                                  W
16                Central Michigan                       W
23               Ohio State        NIGHT              L
30               @Duke             NIGHT            W

October                                                                                                       THE STORM.
7                @Louisville      NIGHT              L
14                USC                 NIGHT
28             Pittsburgh 

4             @Clemson                                                                                    BEFORE       
18           Wake Forest                                                                                 FINISHING...  
25          @Stanford

Wager 2023

Team 8, you tried to warn us.   I will never doubt you again. 


ND Lacrosse God



Kevin Corrigan


A Corrigan as national champ?



Brian M.John P., John L.


Matt Kavanagh


The first of the Kavanagh clan, his career mirrors that of how an 11 win season might be construed - undeniably excellent, just not quite good enough.

DarylDave M., PeterRay


Pat Kavanagh


Nobody embodies 'tough' more than this guy... suggesting a 10 win season, with all the unknowns on the team (e.g., WR's), may say more about the team's fortitude - and future - than two losses might.



Brian W, Jay, BillRyan, Matt, GarrettCincoBucks,  

SullyRaz, Ted, Lini, Jim B.,  Spit the Elder,  Spit the Younger, Mike B., Bryan


Chris Kavanagh

How would a 9-win season be viewed?  The guess here is "wow, that year was crazy, a little unhinged, certainly unpredictable!"

Which seems to be the most perfect description of the youngest Kavanagh. 



Jim S., Bob J.,  

GutschJim T.Jerry P., UngieCoat Man, Alex, Mike G., George


Sergio Perkovic.

The pride of Bloomfield Hills, arguably the Austin Carr of his era (check out sometime how he singlehandedly brought the team back in a NCAA semi-final vs. Denver).

Yet no one remembers him in light of the team's recent success.  Just like no one will choose to remember an 8-win outcome.


Albert, Jerry W.,  Feif, Blair


Liam Entenmann

7 wins, ugh.  No one would be happy with that - yet out of it may reveal a preternatural performance or two (ala our man Liam in Philadelphia), setting up an optimistic 2024 scenario.

Dare to dream.



Gerry Byrne


Nothing optimistic about 6 wins or less.  Just looking for someone to blame.  In this case, why not point the finger at the former 2nd in command to Corrigan, architect for a top tier defense strategy who (got tired of waiting and) left for the top job at Harvard.

Not fair but so what.



This is lacrosse 'when it was a club sport' territory...



How are the fencers looking this year?


Schadenfreude of the Week.

Apparently, seven of the top 25 teams lost last weekend.

One would think that qualifies as something akin to an Amazon Prime Day sales bonanza.

And yet, its tough to get excited about a bunch of mid-tier teams losing when your own team leads the list of massive Under Achievers.

But I'll try.

 Hello, old friend (spoken with Jim Nance-ian tonality)...   

And the fact that you lost in such a painfully ridiculous way - the Canes had the chance to kneel down, likely run out the clock and win but instead ran the ball, fumbled and Ga. Tech went 74 yards in 4 plays / :24 to win  - just proves that misery does love company.  

Though when you're not the company we ever want to be seen with.  But these days, beggars can't be choosers.

Texas A&M
As much as this blogger would love to chronicle the story of the inextricable decline of the Alabama dynasty, how does not revel in any Jimbo-Petrino axis defeat?  While waiting... hoping... for the inevitable dysfunction to kick on.  Sadly, A&M's clearly better than last year's train wreck so one should probbaly enjoy this while it lasts.

Texas.  I don't dislike the Longhorns. In fact, I'm a big McConaughey fan.  I'd love to see 'em be a player on the national stage again - and I think it's a great story if indeed Sark has battled back from a very public drinking problem.  

That said, I am in a "I just want to see the world burn" mode.  

And you're as good of a start as any, UT.  Sorry.

Terry's Tools.

Rather than moving to Defcon 1 - complete over-reaction and panic, leading to outright and playing the 'blame game'... 

How about we dabble in it's more benign cousin, "What if"?

Special Notre Dame edition!

And hopefully never having to do so again. 

1)  Scheduling.   What if we had said 'no thanks' to starting the season traveling overseas, and maybe not playing seven straight games after that?  And perhaps recognizing that EVERY FREAKING YEAR mid-terms hit at very specific time, at a school that actually makes their student athletes take them seriously, and scheduling appropriately - as in a Bye week... a patsy... but not YOUR BIGGEST RIVAL?

2)  OC Search.   What if we'd perhaps done our due diligence properly on our Offensive Coordinator search, starting with PULLING THE CORRECT CONTRACT so we knew what, specifically, we were negotiating against.  

And what if we had a short list for the position that stretched, say,  a somewhat LONGER THAN TWO EXTERNAL CANDIDATES?

3)  Strength & ConditioningWhat if we had recognized, confronted and addressed the disconnect with the prior S&C coach in whatever the issue (philosophy? techniques? nutrition?)...  maybe before we were TWO WEEKS AWAY from starting August camp?  

Would it change where we're at now?  Who knows.  And hindsight is always 20-20, right?   But it would sure appear all of those factors are reasonable contributors, perhaps in a multiplier effect, to the present state of the program.   

Which ain't good.


For a school that seemingly relies on grad transfers, this can't be good news.

Final Thought.

But no one wants you when you lose.
Don't give up
Please, don't give up...

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